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Alive SE - EIL 2001
             NUON and DVD
          by Michael Schmidt

Andreas Binner works for VM Labs and is responsible for the entire audio
firmware of NUON. After more than three years in the US, he recently
returned to Germany to, among other things, improve the co-operation with
the European partners. took the opportunity for a little
interview with him. First I want to thank you for taking the time to answer our
questions. How did you get to VM Labs, and what exactly are you doing

Andreas: I'm with VM Labs since December 1997. Because of my work for
ATARI I already knew some of my future coworkers at VM Labs. During a
visit in the summer of 1997 Richard (Miller, CEO) offered me a job. As
leader of the audio team I was responsible for all audio projects. In the
beginning mainly game-audio and audio decoder architecture. Other part of
the NUON firmware then also fell into my area: CD Player, VLM and MP3
Player. I now returned to Germany after more than three years in the USA.
My emphasis now is more the general system architecture and more future
oriented projects. I'm also trying to improve the support for our European
developers. Additionally I will stick to VLM ;-) Can you be a little more precise about the European partners?
Are those hardware or software developers?

Andreas: Unfortunately I can't say much about that. Anyway, I will support
Eclipse and their current project IS3. You developed an especially important part of the Virtual
Light Machine; the most popular feature in NUON enhanced players for sure.
How complicated has it been to connect the graphics, which are by Jeff
Minters, with your Audio Spectral Analyze code? We're often astonished
what details of the music become visible through VLM.

Andreas: First I have to say that Jeff's ingenious graphic effects make up
the main part of VLM's fascination. The best audio analysis is worthless
without the appropriate graphical conversion! The prototype of the
analysis was done very quickly. Also the first connection to Jeff's
graphics engine didn't take long. Jeff took care of that himself by the
way; he has a lot of experience from the Jaguar VLM. Then followed a
process of improvements and refinements on Jeff's effects, as well as on
the analysis side, that took more than 12 months. VLM is not a fulltime
job for Jeff and even less for me; it's more a hobby ;-). Each publicized
DVD player is like a snapshot from this process. Contrary to many other
components in the NUON firmware VLM is one of the more creative and
experimental projects. VLM clearly shows a lot of love for the detail. What further
effects can we expect, and are there effects for which you had the ideas?

Andreas: Not really. I gave Jeff feedback, which effects I like and
sometimes suggestions for improvements. There is no premanufactured
algorithm on any kind of web site. Almost anything in these areas is
handmade. Especially in case of the beat detection it is more a research
project. You should not forget that Jeff and I do only have a small part
of the NUON processing power for disposal! That's right, the audio signals have to be decoded after all.
What do you think how much percent capacity do the different processes

Andreas: Unfortunately I can't say anything to that question. Did you have to make compromises (graphically and
technically) with the VLM because the decoding of the music didn't leave
you enough capacity?

Andreas: You always have to make compromises - the only question is how
good you hide them ;-) Where there moments when you said to yourself: "Damn, the
audio analysis will never function together with Jeffs graphic code"?

Andreas: No, not really. Sure there have been times where we had doubts if
it was possible to finish a decent VLM, but that's the thrill of the whole
thing. Can we soon look forward to a DVD audio support with NUON?

Andreas: It's the decision of the customer if a new technology gets to the
mass market. Indirect this influences also the work of VM Labs through the
manufacturers. I'm sure VM Labs will not ignore a technology if the market
demands it. :-) For the first time there will be MP3 in NUON enhanced
players. What can we expect in the summer regarding operation and features
that's not being seen in present MP3 players?

Andreas: I think no MP3 player does have VLM by now ;-). We don't have
that much influence on the user interface that determine the manufacturers
themselves. Just this: there won't be trivial 8.3 file names and
restrictions with the directory depth or with bit rates... Which kind of music should absolutely be played with VLM?

Andreas: The VLM is a little bit trimmed to the musical taste of Jeff and
me, of course. Thus, Pink Floyd is not a question, I personally think
Trance fits pretty good, but once in a while I also like to relax to dark
Wave music. I can only agree, "The Dark Side Of The Moon" is really
rocking! The VLM in the DVD N501 and the European devices is to be
partitioned into music types. Is the "music analysis" especially aligned
to the different music styles, or is the VLM in its analysis basically

Andreas: There have been basic improvements, especially with the beat
detection. Some parameters are now changeable by the user. Which function in NUON is the most important one for you
personally, or which one do you use particularly often privately?

Andreas: VLM of course ;-). Seriously: NUON has much more to offer, of
course. But I'm involved with NUON so deeply that I don't use my DVD
player that much privately. I'm always too critical or I'm thinking about
new features. I enjoy a round of T3K once in a while, and if I start it... ...and what level have you reached by now? ;-)

Andreas: If I get to the 40s then I'm really good ;-) Thank you very much for your time. Is there anything else you
want to tell the NUON community!? :-)

Andreas: I want to thank the NUON community for their faith. Although many
things look like secretiveness and silence, we care about the wishes of
our users. That's just one reason for the development of the NUONTalkForm.


I thank Andreas Binner for the interview and wish him all the best for the

Alive SE - EIL 2001